UberEats drivers plan protest against cuts in pay rate per delivery

Drivers for Uber’s food delivery service are planning a protest in the latest sign of discontent within the gig economy, reports The Guardian.

UberEats riders will demonstrate outside the group’s London headquarters on Friday after the company cut the amount it pays per delivery, which some drivers say leaves them at risk of earning less than the minimum wage. They are calling on the company to pay the independently backed London living wage of £9.40 an hour.

The action comes after more than 100 moped riders and cyclists took to the streets to protest against pay changes at rival food courier service Deliveroo, eventually seeing off an attempt to force them to accept new pay terms.

UberEats drivers, who earned as much as £20 an hour during peak meal times when the service launched in June, told the Guardian they are now earning less than £10, even at peak times. Off peak, drivers earn £3.30 per delivery, plus a mileage payment between the restaurant where food is picked up and the drop location, minus a 25% fee taken by UberEats.

The changeable rates mean that some are at risk of earning less than the minimum wage over the course of a week, according to pay records passed to the Guardian.

All drivers are self-employed, which means that they do not receive holiday or sick pay, or any hourly wage while they wait around for orders.

Imran Siddiqui, a scooter courier at UberEats, said: “Although they speak of ‘flexibility’ the bosses at UberEats have been cutting pay since day one. We’re telling them we need the London living wage. I’d like to ask them: where is the freedom in poverty wages? ”

“We’re trying to get by, but it’s been a race to the bottom.”

Mags Dewhurst, the chair of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain couriers and logistics branch, which has been working with the delivery drivers, said: “Uber is becoming less and less rewarding to work for. It is reducing its rates during peak times as a response to piece rates.

“By paying a piece rate, they are saying they only want to pay for work when they can make a profit out of it. They are saying work is only when someone is making a delivery, but people are providing a service to the company when they are standing around waiting for orders. Without that, UberEats wouldn’t be able to function.”

On average, couriers take home more than the London living wage at meal times, UberEats said.

Alex Czarnecki, the general manager of UberEats in London, said: “We’re committed to being the best option for couriers in London. Unlike other companies, we don’t set shifts, minimum hours or delivery zones. Couriers can simply log in or out when and where they choose.

“This is why we’ve seen hundreds of new couriers sign up in the last week alone. As UberEats grows, couriers are busier than ever. In fact, so far this week, couriers delivering lunch and dinner have made over 10% more an hour than they did in the same period last week. Our office is open and our team is always available to chat to couriers.”

At peak times, drivers now earn £3.30 per delivery, plus a £4 “promotion” amount per job between 11.30am and 2.30pm, or a £3 promotion between 6.30pm and 9.30pm, as well as the mileage payment. UberEats then takes a 25% cut.

Drivers are upset as UberEats has been gradually cutting the promotion part of the fee as it takes on more people and becomes busier. UberEats said a driver would earn about £7.60 for a peak time delivery if they travelled 1.5 miles.

UberEats began recruiting delivery drivers this summer in an attempt to take on Deliveroo and grab a slice of the UK’s takeaway food market.

The San Francisco-based company, which began as a taxi-hailing app, initially offered a £100 signing-on fee to delivery partners, its term for bicycle and scooter drivers, to tempt them away from rivals.

An ad campaign called get there with Uber sought to woo customers and drivers by suggesting that income from working for the company could help them start their own business.

Uber’s phenomenal growth has been met with opposition from traditional taxi services, leading to major protests and bans in some European cities.

The company is facing a legal challenge from its drivers, who say they should be recognised officially as Uber workers, rather than counted as self-employed.